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Two Atlanta police officers were fired and charged with assault after yanking two unarmed Black college students out of their car and tasing them last month. Now, the officers have filed a lawsuit against the city’s mayor and police chief.
Former Atlanta cops Ivory Streeter and Mark Gardner were fired by Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms after a viral video showed Streeter, Gardner, and several other officers violently arresting college students Messiah Young, 22, and Taniyah Pilgrim, 20, on May 30. The pair of students, who respectively attend the historically Black Atlanta colleges Morehouse and Spelman, had picked up food when they were caught in traffic during the first weekend of protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Just hours prior, the mayor had implemented a curfew beginning at 9 p.m. that night.
The cops rushed the car, broke the windows, yanked out Pilgrim, and repeatedly tased Young. Young later told CNN that he had remnants of the taser darts in his back for hours until they were finally removed later that night.
The next day, the mayor announced that Streeter and Gardner, who are also Black, would be fired. The two officers, as well as four other cops, were later charged with crimes after the incident, including allegations of aggravated assault, simple battery, and criminal damage to property. (Five of the six were charged with felonies.) Police Chief Erika Shields later called the charges brought by Fulton County DA Paul Howard “political jockeying” in an internal memo.
Streeter and Gardner filed a lawsuit in state court on Monday naming both Bottoms and Shields, which argued they didn’t break any laws in their use of force and that they were fired without an investigation, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The two were also seeking to be reinstated into their old jobs.
“Petitioners have suffered irreparable injury to their personal and professional reputations as a result of their unlawful dismissal,” the suit says, according to the Journal-Constitution.
An email seeking comment from Bottoms was not immediately returned.
Several police officers around the country are facing charges or a loss of their jobs after brutalizing protesters and others swept up in the demonstrations in the past few weeks. Philadelphia cop Joseph Bologna, a high-ranking officer in the city’s police department, was charged with aggravated assault after a viral video showed him striking an unarmed protester in the back of the head with a metal baton.
And in Buffalo, two officers were suspended after video captured them pushing 75-year old Martin Gugino to the ground, a move which sparked the resignation of the Buffalo Police Department’s entire emergency response team as well as conspiracy theories about Gugino promoted by President Donald Trump.
Cover: In this Saturday, May 30, 2020, photo taken from police body camera video released by the Atlanta Police Department, an officer points his handgun at Messiah Young while the college student is seated in his vehicle, in Atlanta. (Atlanta Police Department via AP)